Light meals / snacks

Stir fry egg with garlic chive

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Egg and garlic chive is a common home-cooked meal in Southern China. It is quick and easy to cook, nutritious, and comforting.

Egg and garlic chive

The easy 10-minute cooking involves:

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Chicken feet and corporate greed

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Chicken feet and corporate greed

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries”. Winston Churchill.

I thought of corporate greed . . . those executives who share their visions loud and proud, and take the bones out of the companies until it is on the verge of collapse.  They then harvest bonus when time is good, and enjoy golden handshakes when the reality unfolds.

Corporate greed reminds me of chicken feet – skin and bone, tasty, yet unfulfilling as a meal. If a full-time worker struggles to feed his family and put a roof over their heads  – is this meal a blessing or misery?

Collaboration with Woofy Comics
Collaboration with my son @ Woofy Comics

Cooking method is as follows:

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Meals for homeless: turmeric eggs with chili tomato salsa

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This is a simple ‘please-all’ egg recipe with a tangy chili and tomato salsa.  It is often the first dish to be emptied at the street buffet for our homies.

Turmeric eggs with chili tomato salsa

Turmeric eggs with chili tomato salsa
Eggs pan fried with turmeric

Tangy capsicum, onion, tomato and chili salsa
Tangy capsicum, onion, tomato and chili salsa

Easy method is as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

Wonton ‘salad’ with XO Sauce

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Some beautiful people at my husband’s work organised a picnic lunch last weekend.  It was a diverse mix of people – Australians, Germans, Chinese and a few Indian families. A father brought his son and some yummy curry cooked by his wife’s friend.

“Why your wife’s friend cooked for us, a bunch of strangers?” we asked.

“Our Indians always help each other out in the community”, he smiled, ‘my son, for example, lived with his aunt for a few years; and our neighbor had picked him up from school for many years, unpaid of course”.

That sounds lovely, and a dream for many of us.

I live in a suburb in Sydney.  I like the area because it has lots of big trees and the community was warm and welcoming.  Things changed over the past few years with skyrocket housing prices. Moms are now working more hours and the stress spreading in the air.

How I wish we could have a closely knit community who can help each other, or simply having the time to ask each other, “are you ok?”

Wonton salad with XO Sauce

Here is a large wonton ‘salad’ I prepared for the picnic, a dish perfect for sharing.

The dish is somehow Cantonese, spiced with a Hong Kong style XO sauce made with scallop, fish, garlic and chili; yet it is not quite Cantonese as it was served lightly chilled, a cooking style used frequently by Northern China called the ‘liang ban’ (cool-mix).

A video on how to wrap wontons is also attached below.

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Chilled pork hocks with soy sauce and Asian spices (FODMAP friendly, gluten free option)

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A common style of Chinese cooking is called ‘liangban’ or ‘liangchai’, which means a salad-like chilled dish. The ingredients for these dishes can be very diverse, from vegetables to different kinds of meat including offal.  My husband’s favorite liangchai is Sichuan style liver and tongue. My favorite liangchai is pork hocks.

This week I made a liangchai with pig hocks. It took 2 days, but the process was very simple and easy.

Chilled pork hocks with soy and Asian spices (FODMAP friendly, gluten free option)

Recipe is as follows:

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Pan fried tofu with soy sauce (FODMAP friendly, gluten free option, vegan)

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When I was growing up in China, tofu was the cheapest protein and it was always plentiful.  At the fresh food market they sold tofu on a large timber slab, carefully cutting out the required portion for each customer – 10 cents, 20 cents…

My grandmother loved pan frying tofu with load of cooking oil. She cut the tofu into little triangles then fried them until golden brown. She then finished cooking with a splash of soy sauce. What a mouth watering aroma!

Tonight I pan fried some tofu with soy sauce for dinner – the tofu was soft and heart warming.

* Use plain tofu for a FODMAP friendly recipe; use gluten free soy sauce for a gluten free option.

Pan fried tofu with soy sauce (FODMAP friendly, gluten free option, vegan)

 

It was so easy to make:   Read the rest of this entry »

Fried duck eggs, with green shallot and dark soy sauce (FODMAP friendly, gluten free option)

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An Italian man at my husband’s work keeps a few ducks in his back yard. He gave us some fresh eggs last week. The eggs reminded me a $20 fried egg dish I had at a posh Asian restaurant, garnished with plenty of green shallot and dark soy sauce.

‘I can cook that’, I said to myself.   It was easy,  I cracked an egg, shallow fried it in hot oil with some green shallot (scallion); then transferred the egg to a plate, splashed a little dark soy sauce on top.  It looked colorful and delicious.

* Use the green part of the scallion for a FODMAP friendly version; use a gluten free soy sauce for a gluten free option.

 

Fried duck eggs, with green shallot and dark soy sauce (FODMAP friendly, gluten free option)

 

Fried duck eggs, with green shallot and dark soy sauce (FODMAP friendly, gluten free option)
Fresh duck eggs

Fried cactus flowers, with Chinese five-spice and fried green shallot (gluten free)

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The cactus flowered again this year, yielding 2 single strikingly beautiful flowers, with pink and pearl like colors.

Fried cactus flowers, with Chinese five-spice and fried green shallot (gluten free)

Fried cactus flowers, with Chinese five-spice and fried green shallot (gluten free)

Last harvest I made a soup with the flowers. This year I fried them with some egg and corn flour, flavored with Chinese five-spice and green shallot.

DSC02150 #1

Method is as follows:

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Saute oyster mushrooms with bok choy (low FODMAP, Vegan)

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Monash University updates their FODMAP diet app from time to time. I recently noticed that oyster mushroom has been added to the ‘green’ traffic light list at 86g per serve. Bok Choy is now restricted to 85g per serve due to moderate amount of polyolsorbitol.

So here is a simple oyster mushroom dish for our friends on low FODMAP diet.

 

Saute oyster mushrooms with bok choy (low FODMAP, Vegan)

Method is as follows:

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Stir fried tofu skin 腐竹 with Chinese mushroom 香菇 and capsicum (gluten free, vegan)

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My favorite Northern Chinese restaurant makes this lovely tofu skin dish, with Sichuan pepper infused oil and loads of garlic.  I tried to replicate it a few times but without success.

So here is my own version. It is actually tastier than the one in the restaurant (grins) !

Stir fried tofu skin 腐竹 with Chinese mushroom 香菇 and capsicum (gluten free, vegan)

Recipe is as follows:

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Rice congee with pan fried fish (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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My little boy asked me last night: ” what was the kindest thing your mommy did to you?” Somehow, I have been asking myself the same question since my mother passed away a few years ago.

“One time, she let me put my cold feet between her legs to warm up.” I said.

“That wasn’t much at all,” said the little boy. He expected every mother to be kind, loving, caring and demonstrates extraordinary devotion to their children.

“One time, I fell down the stairs, and she cooked me a soup with field mice. The soup was said to have calming effect on children after experiencing trauma. There was a wandering vendor balancing a few long bamboo sticks on his shoulder. He put a cotton bag at one end of a stick, opened the lid, and shook out two field mice. He then smashed the bag on the pebbly ground. I was force fed the soup that afternoon.”

“Oh’, said the little boy. “That doesn’t count.”

“Another time, I was very sick, and I couldn’t eat any normal food. My mum cooked me fish and lettuce congee.” I said.

“What happened to you?” The little boy asked.

“I was eight, second grade in a local primary school. After a basketball game, we ran back to the classroom. A boy fell over me, and we fell on a concrete step. My lips were split, and some of my front teeth collapsed. The school principal took me to the hospital at the back of his push bike. I had an operation and could not eat solid food for days.”

I continued, “my mother tried to claim $10 for medical expenses from that boy’s family. But then she found out the boy’s parents were divorced, and the boy lived with his grandmother. They had no income and could barely come up with a few dollars. My mother told them not to worry about the money after that.”

“That was kind,” my little boy was finally satisfied. “What was the boy’s name?”

“Li Hai 李海, means ocean”. I answered. “He had very bright eyes.”

IMG_5037 #1
Impression of Li Hai and other primary boys

This afternoon, I cooked coogee for lunch. Rather than breaking up the fish and cooking it in the congee like a stew, I pan fried a few small pieces of barramundi and served them on top of the congee – tasted lovely.

Rice congee with pan fried fish (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Recipe is as follows. A FODMAPs check list is also attached. Read the rest of this entry »

Saute capsicum and egg, with oyster sauce and sesame oil (low FODMAP)

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I have been volunteering at a food program for low-income earners. Most of the program’s fruits and vegetables are donated and sold for a fraction of the ‘normal’ prices. It gives me great joys to fill up their trolleys with milk, bread, fruits, vegetables and a small selection of daily essentials for as little as $10.

The program reminded to respect food – not to be wasteful and appreciate what we have. More recently, I have been buying the ‘odd bunches’ fruits and vegetables from the supermarket. Today, I picked up a bunch of capsicums with odd colors – a bit of green and a bit of orange. I made a stir fry with some free-range eggs to go with my leftover curry from last night.

It looked pretty good, and tasted delicious.

Saute capsicum and egg, with oyster sauce and sesame oil (low FODMAP)

 

Recipe is as follows. A FODMAPs check list is also attached.

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Saute potato, carrot and fennel, with coriander, turmeric, sesame oil and sesame seeds (low FODMAP, vegan, gluten free)

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A few years ago, I received a free pack of gardening fennel seeds with a random purchase. This year I finally got around to spray the seeds onto the veggie patch. To my surprise, they were seeding. Inspired, I went down to the supermarket and bought a fennel bulb to cook a meal.

It was a simple meal – I diced some potato, carrot and fennel, then saute the vegetables with a little turmeric and sesame oil. I added some fresh coriander and sesame seeds at the end. Quite satisfying as a mid-winter meal.

Saute potato, carrot and fennel, with coriander, turmeric, sesame oil and sesame seeds (low FODMAP, vegan, gluten free)

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Simple bean sprout salad with soy sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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Simple bean sprout salad with soy sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

I am hooked on charity shops. I love the unique pieces that I can’t buy from the department stores and homeware chain stores. There is a charity shop in the next suburb and I visit it every week, rain or shine. Last week I found this big brown urn. It was just like the one my grandmother used to grow bean sprout – layers of beans between cloth pieces; some water; and a towel covering the top of the urn; and magically we had bean sprouts for dinners.

Brown urn for growing bean sprouts
Brown urn for growing bean sprouts

Although growing bean sprouts may take a bit of time and effort. Cooking bean sprouts can be effortless. For a simple salad, I first blanch the bean sprouts lightly, add a dash of sesame oil, some sliced green shallot, then a dash of soy sauce. Garnish with a little toasted sesame seeds, it is ready to serve.

Bean sprout contains only trace amounts of FODMAPs and can be consumed freely by FODMAPers.

Recipe is as follows:

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Grandmother’s fried pork cracklings, warm rice with pork fat and soy sauce 豬油豉油撈飯 (low FODMAP)

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I cooked some cracklings tonight, the way my grandmother cooked them a long long time ago.

Grandmother's pork crackling, warm rice with pork fat and soy sauce

When I was growing up, pork fat was a rare delicacy. Meat was rationed. It was difficult to imagine that one would waste the precious coupons on pork fat instead of good cut of meat.

My grandmother was an extraordinary woman, always working, never complaint and never indulged herself, except, she loved pork fat. Occasionally she took me to the food market across the street and bought a small slap of pork fat with skin. She cut up the meat, then pan fried the pieces in a wok over the coal stove.

The pan frying turned very quickly to deep frying. She scooped out the oil and stored it in a little black urn. The black urn sat on a rotten timber shelf, up high and away from the cats, looking like a treasure pot.   In the wok, the pork pieces eventually turned into golden delicious cracklings which we shared with the whole extended family of about 10 people.

Over the next few days, grandmother and I enjoyed hot boiled rice with pork fat for lunches, flavored with a dash of soy sauce. My grandmother called it ‘lou fan’ meaning ‘mix the rice’. These were some of the most delicious meals I ever had.

Grandmother's coal stove - grandmother's pork cracklings, pork fat with boiled rice and soy sauce
My grandmother’s coal stove

I still remember our kitchen. The walls were never painted, darken by the smoke from the coal cakes.  The small earthy stove was among piles of coal cakes, which we purchased from a small shop at the end of our lane way.  From very young age, I helped to carry the coal cakes home, a few at a time, on top of a small timber slab.  Our house cats slept on top of the coal cakes during winters for the warmth from the stove, waking up in the morning, looking filthy. The cats were working cats and expected to fetch most of their own food (rats). They ate scraps from the family meals, most of the time it was just some rice, vegetables and sauce. Unloved and hungry, they had anxious looks in the eyes that I could never forget. They had a hard life.

Today, we have shiny appliances in our kitchen and beautiful stone splash back. We have a beautiful dog in our household which we dearly love. He enjoys his home cooked meals with all the goodness.

As I enjoyed the meal, I really appreciate what we have today.

Recipe is as follows:

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Hairy gourd ‘liangban’ salad with XO sauce 节瓜凉拌

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This week I discovered an Asian grocery store 10 minutes’ drive away. Their stock range was quite comprehensive. The man in the shop helped me with the bags to my car which was sort of services I never experienced from an Asian store. I managed to find a parking spot very close to the shop – can’t believe my luck. I was very impressed.

I picked up a beautifully fresh hairy gourd from the shop. Hairy gourd is a very popular vegetable in Southern China, easy to grow with plenty of subtropical rains. The gourd is normally cooked in a soup or a stew with a tender and soft texture.

Today I decided to do something different with a ‘liangban’ 凉拌 salad. I added XO sauce to the salad for a kick as the gourd, on its own, could be quite plain. XO sauce is a mildly spicy paste made with dried seafood, garlic and chili, packed of flavors.

 

Hairy gourd 'liangban' salad with XO sauce  节瓜凉拌

I first peeled the skin of the gourd; I then julienned the flesh, disregard the seedy part of the gourd (but reversed for a soup dish). I then briefly blanched the vegetable until it was just cooked (about 1-2 minute) and ran it under cold water to cool; I mixed the drained vegetable with sesame oil, XO sauce, a generous dash of dark soy sauce, white pepper, chili, sesame seeds and sliced green shallot. I left the salad in fridge to chill for couple of hours before serving.  So simple and delicious. No recipe required.

Spiced lamb meat balls with pumpkin, carrot and rice vermicelli (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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On the weekend we had a lovely lunch on Fort Denison, a small island in Sydney Harbor.  It was for Nadine’s 40s birthday. Nadine was originally from Melbourne. She fell in love with Bill, a Sydneysider. She moved to Sydney and settled in his small waterfront cottage by the river. There they are raising 2 gorgeous kids.

Bill has IBS – but not just the ordinary IBS. He is sensitive to most ‘common’ food including coconut milk, soy sauce and packaged meat from the supermarkets. Cooking for Bill is not just a challenge, it is a war against the modern world that many of us accustom to.

Every time I create a FODMAP dish, I think of Bill’s challenges. What are we really feeding ourselves nowadays and what consequence would follow?

Shop bought meat balls is one those food that you rarely know what you get. In this recipe, I used basic ingredients and work on blending the ingredients to achieve the flavors. Hope you will enjoy it.

Spiced lamb meat balls with pumpkin, carrot and rice vermicelli (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Recipe is as follows:

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Rice balls with wasabi furikake seasoning

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After a weekend of non-stop eating and drinking, we were keen to have a very simple meal this lovely Monday evening – perhaps some warm rice with a few sprinkle of seasoning.

I cooked the rice in a rice cooker. I used 1 cup of white glutinous rice with 1 cup of medium grain rice. The cooked rice was gently soft but not too sticky. I then rolled some rice into balls, and coated the rice balls with furikake.

I bought my furikake from a local Asian store. I particularly like the one with wasabi flavor. The furikake was made in China which is fine with me as it was very delicious.

A simple meal and no recipe required.

Rice balls with wasabi furikake seasoning

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Tangy green mango salad with prawns (gluten free)

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Friends who live in an inner west suburb of Sydney have a few mango trees. Every year I admired their trees and promised to make them some green mango salad. But I was never there when the mangoes were green.

This year they brought over 2 green mangoes to our house. Reportedly the husband was injured trying to catch the second mango –  the mango fell off the tree, bounced off his hands and hit him in the “privates”.

I had to make a mango salad as compensation.

The dish is very simple, mango, carrot and prawns pickled in a fish sauce, apple cider vinegar and sugar, mixed with coriander, green shallot and sesame oil and sesame seeds.

 

Tangy green mango salad with prawns (gluten free)

Recipe is as follows:

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Tofu knots, enoki mushrooms and wood ear fungus salad 冷拌

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Yesterday it was the 15th day of Luna New Year (元宵节, YuanXiao), which is known as the day of lantern festival.  There was no lanterns for us. After all, it was too hot to even go outside in the scorching weather in Sydney.

So I made a few simple dishes to enjoy with a few of our friends, who came over to cool down in our pool.  One of the dishes I made was a ‘liangban’ salad with chewy tofu knots (百页结), tasty enokitake mushrooms (金菇), crunchy wood ears fungus (木耳), green shallot and coriander.

Tofu knots, enoki mushrooms and wood ear fungus salad 冷拌

Recipe is as follows:

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Easy banana, lime, orange and cardamom compote (FODMAP friendly, gluten free, vegan)

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This week I gathered a few limes from the garden. I have always struggled with my lime trees – lot of flowers but rarely bear any fruit. So my three little lime fruit this year were rather precious. I made a fruit compote with banana, lime, orange and cardamom.

Delicious for breakfast, served on toast –  just not enough of it. Hope my lime trees will be kind to me next year.

Easy banana, lime, orange and cardamom compote (FODMAP friendly, gluten free, vegan)

Recipe is as follows:

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Rice paper rolls of quinoa, coriander, alfalfa and sesame seeds (low FODMAP, vegan, gluten free)

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A few days ago I set off to create a few vegan FODMAP dishes with alfalfa. The schedule was ‘interrupted’ by Chinese New Year with wrapping dumplings with extended family, chatting with friends on how to make ‘yee sang’, handing out red envelopes and, work. We don’t get any national holidays for Chinese New Year in Australia.

Here is my alfalfa recipes installment #2 –  rice paper rolls of quinoa flavored with sesame oil and coriander, lettuce, carrot, capsicum, alfalfa, sesame seeds,  and a small squeeze of BBQ sauce.

Can’t find any rice paper? Don’t worry, the recipe also works as a salad.

Rice paper roll with quinoa, coriander, alfalfa, carrot, lettuce, capsicum, sesame seed and sesame oil, low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Sushi terrine with vegetables (low FODMAP, vegan, gluten free)

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A few weeks ago I set off to make a few carrot & vegetable dishes. Here is one of them…

It is made with sushi rice, saute pumpkin with cumin, saute carrot with turmeric, saute capsicum with garam masala and nori sheets.  Sesame seeds were added for extra flavor. The ingredients are layered in a terrine pan, and wrapped with 2 nori sheets.

Sushi terrine with vegetables (low FODMAP, vegan, gluten free)

Recipe is as follow:  Read the rest of this entry »

Asian inspired carrot, pumpkin and kumquat dip (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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A good friend is on a self diagnosed gluten free diet. She is addicted to vegetables and all things fashionably healthy. You will laugh if you see her feeding her kids with healthy food the good old Chinese way –  with great persistence.

We were over at their house for lunch last weekend. I made some tasty vegetable dips which was very appreciated. I served the dips with some plain rice crackers.

 

Asian inspired carrot, pumpkin and kumquat dip (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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Rice paper rolls with tofu, bamboo shoot, bean sprout and sesame (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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FODMAP vegan can be delicious too – tofu recipe #5.

A couple weeks ago I set out to see how many tummy friendly tofu recipes I could made. So far I have a rice noodle soup, an entree (pan fried tofu with chili & tomato salsa), a main (tofu chop suey) and a dessert (with ginger, pumpkin & tapioca). Perhaps the next dish would be a healthy snack that can be packed into a lunch box?

Vegetables can be quite plain, so the bamboo shoot will give the dish a kick of flavor.

Rice paper rolls with tofu, bamboo shoot, bean sprout and sesame (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

The filling: tofu with bamboo shoot, bean sprout, potato, carrot, capsicum, sesame and coriander
The filling: tofu with bamboo shoot, bean sprout, potato, carrot, capsicum, sesame and coriander

Recipe is as follow:

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Asian style kebab on lemongrass stick (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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With winter coming, I cut back a bush of lemongrass in the garden. I ended up with a huge bunch of lemongrass sticks which I used for this pork and beef kebabs.

Asian style kebab on lemongrass stick (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Garlic chive pockets 韭菜餅, and memories of a TV set made of a heart rate monitor

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Garlic chive pockets 韭菜餅

When I was a little girl, I was fascinated by my cousin Yang’s skills in making dumpling wrappers.

Yang was the eldest daughter of my 2nd aunt. My aunt joined the army and met her husband in Northern China. They settled there for over 10 years before moving back to GuangZhou and re-trained as experts for mending medical equipment. My aunt made our first TV set out of an abandoned heart-rate monitor. It was the only TV set in the neighborhood. I still remember watching a green and grey version of the ‘Sound of the Music’ on the 3-inch diameter screen. It didn’t have a protective case in the back – we could see all the wires and connections. My grandfather put all his newspapers next to it. One time,  grandfather asked me to fetch him an old paper. I climbed up the drawers under the TV and reached for the paper.  I felt someone hit me with a stick from behind. I turned and looked, my grandfather was sitting at his desk working on something, and there was no one else in the room. I was zapped by electricity from the TV set!

Cousins from GuangZhou
A rare photo of the cousins in early 70s. Clockwise from top left, Yong, Zhi, Yang, Jie, myself

Anyway, Yang was a true master of the rolling pin from a young age – she could make hundreds of wrappers in no time at all. Her fingers were magic and I used to watch her whenever I had the opportunity. Their apartment always smelt of noodles, dumplings and aged vinegar… yum!

Being a ‘southerner’, my rolling pin skills are lacking – I am just too slow. To get around my deficiency, I discovered that my Italian pasta machine can produce wheat based wrappers rather efficiently. The trick is to first roll a small amount of dough into a ball, then press it to a round disc, and put it through the pasta machine a few times rotating each time. To show off my newly developed ‘skills’, I made these northern style garlic chive pancakes with eggs, Chinese mushrooms  and shrimp shell.  The traditional pancake uses heaps of garlic chive and has as a very strong taste. In this recipe, I used smaller amount of garlic chive and added chicken and mung bean vermicelli for extra texture and flavor.

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Asian style omelette with cabbage and oyster sauce (low FODMAP)

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I lived in Melbourne some years ago for work, far away from friends and family. One of my favorite pass time was going to Daimaru Japanese department store. At the lower ground floor of the store there were fast food outlets. There was this particular one that sold Japanese cabbage omelettes and I was really fond of it. The omelettes were served with  a thick oyster sauce and mayonnaise.

Here is a tummy friendly version of a cabbage omelette – served with a lighter sauce.

Asian style omelette with cabbage and oyster sauce (low FODMAP)

 

Recipe is as follow:

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Sticky rice with Chinese sausage and mushroom

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When I was a little girl, sticky rice was such a treat – we would only enjoy it on special occasions such as weddings or festival seasons. It is probably because it takes extra efforts to fry glutinous rice ?

Sticky rice with Chinese sausage and mushroom

Recipe is as follows:

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Chilled beef shank with Asian ‘laosui’ 鹵水 spices

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LaoSui is translated literately as ‘old water’. It is a hot brine with variety of spices – cloves, cinnamon bark, fennel, citric peel, Sichuan pepper, star anise, dry ginger and licorice root. LaoSui spices are versatile and frequently used to marinate meat and eggs. For this beef shank recipe, I used pre-packed LaoSui spices from an Asian store.

I picked up the beef shank from an Asian butcher –  I used the ‘little shank’ rather than the ‘big shank’ so it is easier to slice. I like to make a large batch so the ‘LaoSui’ marinate is not wasted – cooked meat can be stored in fridge to enjoy over 2-3 days.

Chilled beef shank with Asian 'laosui' 鹵水 spices

Chilled beef shank with Asian 'laosui' 鹵水 spices
Chilled beef shank with Asian ‘laosui’ 鹵水 spices

Recipe is as follows:    Read the rest of this entry »

Celery salad with black fungus and peanuts (Liang Ban 涼拌) (vegan)

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Here is another cool Asian salad for a hot Sydney day – lightly blanched celery, cooked salted peanuts, crunchy black fungus and green bean vermicelli. Great for lunch, dinner, or as a side dish.

Celery salad with black fungus and peanuts (Liang Ban 涼拌) (vegan)

Recipe is as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

Chinese tea infused eggs (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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Eggs are precious to me.When I was a little girl, my family had very little. Every year at my birthday, instead of kids party, mouthwatering sweets, toys and other gifts, I received a hard boil egg that was colored in red. The red color was rubbed off, with a little water, from some left over cheap red paper that was used for wrapping the ‘lucky’ money for Chinese Luna New Years.

Having lived in Australia for nearly 30 years, I still love my eggs immensely.I use eggs for cooking all the time, sometimes it is as simple as cracking an egg over some boiled rice and cook it in microwave for 1 minute as a quick meal, eat with a dash of soy sauce and olive oil.

The soy sauce and tea infused eggs below is a popular street snack food across Asia. My version is FODMAP friendly and can be made as a gluten free option.

Chinese tea infused eggs (low FODMAP, gluten free)

It is very simple to make – see recipe below. Read the rest of this entry »

Chinese buns with spicy lamb

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Making Chinese buns is so very easy, simply pick up a good quality pack of bun flour & follow the instruction on the pack, and add a bit of baking power.  There are a few popular type of buns – plain ‘man tou’ (馒头), ‘bao zi’ (包子) which is a bun with meat or vegetable in the center, twisted bun Huajuan (花卷), and in the north, ‘Rou jia mo’ (肉夹馍) which is a meat sandwich.

Here is a meat-bun sandwich I made today, filled with lamb stir fried with Sichuan soy bean chili paste.

Chinese buns with spicy lamb

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Asian inspired egg pancake with vegetables (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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This is an easy pancake with egg, rice flour, zucchini, capsicum coconut milk and a dash of fish sauce. It is suitable for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is also tummy friendly.

Asian inspired egg pancake with vegetables (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Recipe is as follow:

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Flaky shallot pancake (蔥油餅)

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I was chatting with Li, another school mum about a forthcoming international food festival at school.  I mentioned that I’d make some shallot cake, a traditional snack from Northern China.  There were twinkles in Li’s eyes. “For one of my birthdays,” Li said, “my mother made three pieces of those really tasty flaky shallot pancakes. I asked why there were only three pieces.  To make these pancakes for my birthday, mum used up every drop of cooking oil in the house. Those days, cooking oil was rationed in China.”

Yes, I remember ‘those days’.

An 250 gram cooking oil coupon
A 250 gram cooking oil coupon

That afternoon, I made my family a batch of shallot pancakes – flaky, oily, chewy and incredibly comforting!

Flaky shallot pancake (蔥油餅)

Recipe is as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

Vietnamese pork kebab (Nem Nuong) on noodles, salad and fresh herbs

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A lady who worked with me in the same company some years ago is also a mum at my little boy’s school.  She helped serving Asian food at the school fete and saw the mountain of food sold out in an hour or so.  ‘Next year’, she declared, ‘I will bring my husband and a grill to serve Vietnamese pork kebabs.’

At my work, I sit next to a young Korean lady, across from a Malay, a Vietnamese, an Irish and a Russian. So I took the advantage and asked about the pork kebabs. The best pork kebabs, I was told, was from an old lady at Cabramatta in Western Sydney who takes orders during the week and delivers the kebabs with a delicious peanut sauce via a fruit shop on Saturdays. She will be there for 2 hours each week, and she does not speak any English.  Now, that would be a problem, as I can’t speak Vietnamese.

So I went on continuing my research efforts. Weeks later my little boy had a play date with Ben. It so happens that Ben’s mum is the best friend of Sue whom I had crossed path at my work last year.   I caught up with Sue for coffees and found out that she is a third generation Chinese grew up  in Vietnam, and she lives nearby.  ‘No need to go to Cabramatta’, she said,’ there is a butcher shop just 10 minutes from your house, and it sells very good pork kebabs”.

Here we go, I finally found the pork kebabs today. I grilled them and serve them on a bed of bean sprouts, rice noodles, pickled carrot, mint and coriander; then I poured over a fish sauce mixture (nuoc nam).  Tasted so good & nearly no recipe required.

Vietnamese pork kebab (Nem Nuong) on noodles, salad and fresh herbs

 

Recipe is as follow:

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Malaysian chicken curry and leek pie

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I have set myself a challenge to make 4 different type of mini meat pies – traditional beef, pepper steak & mushroom, curry chicken, potato & leek. I started with curry chicken because I had some leftover curry from the night before.  I was not prepared at all – I didn’t have time to make the pastry myself and I used ready made puff and short crust pastry.

So here is my lazy Sunday afternoon chicken pie  – hmm.. they taste pretty good.

Malaysian chicken curry and leek pie

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Pork and leek pastry ‘cha siu su’ style

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I like the buttery ‘cha siu su’ at yum cha, but found them a bit too sweet for me. For the school fete, I made my own version of pork puffs inspired by ‘cha siu su’.

Pork and leek pastry 'cha siu su' style

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Crunchy lettuce wrap of pepper beef and pickled carrot, with Vietnamese style dipping sauce (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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Some friends are over for lunch today. I made these tender pepper beef and pickled carrot wraps with a Vietnamese style dipping sauce. The wraps are crunchy,  juicy & satisfying.   Best of all, so very easy to make.

Crunchy lettuce wrap of pepper beef and pickled carrot, with Vietnamese style dipping sauce  (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Spiced potato and spinach

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A long day at the office, tired, hungry & craving for a quick meal. The local food store had a few packs of chicken sausages, and I made potatoes and spinach as a side dish – tasty & satisfying! The star of the dish was, of course, the potatoes with cumin & turmeric.

Spiced potato and spinach

No recipe required for this dish, here are a few simple steps:

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Deep fried rice balls with kimchi, spicy pork and panko crumbs

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I like Kimchi, I like gochujang, I like rice, and I like pork – roll them up in a ball with crispy panko crumbs,deep fried and you will get these irresistible rice balls.

Deep fried rice balls with kimchi, spicy pork and panko crumbs

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Banana chilies stuffed with lamb, topped with an Asian sauce of oyster, soy and sesame oil (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

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I saw some beautiful banana chilies in the local fruit shop & can’t help thinking of this dish –  a popular dish in Southern China with freshwater fish as stuffing. I like to use lamb & cabbage, it goes so well with chilies.

Banana chilies stuffed with lamb, topped with an Asian sauce of oyster, soy and sesame oil (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

Recipe is as follow:  Read the rest of this entry »

Egg ‘pancake’ with Asian style meat balls, vegetables and fish sauce (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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I bought some minced pork from the local butcher early this afternoon with the intention to make some Low FODMAP dumplings. By the time I get around processing the mince with bok choy as filling, I was getting quite hungry and fancied something a bit more substantial.  So here is the afternoon snack / dinner – really nice with a Vietnamese fish sauce.

Egg 'pancake' with Asian style meat balls, vegetables and fish sauce (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Recipe is as follow:   Read the rest of this entry »

Steamed tofu with pork floss (肉松), noodles, soy and vinegar

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This dish is simply refreshing & refreshingly simple – the silkiness of the tofu, the tangy soy & vinegar sauce enhanced by the sweetness of the pork floss, add soba noodles to make a full lunch out of it.

Steamed tofu with pork floss (肉松), noodles, soy & vinegar

Recipe is as follow:  Read the rest of this entry »

Hometown (中山) style steamed rice cake with radish, bacon and dried shrimps; memories of grand uncle ‘Chi’

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I am visiting my old grandaunt & granduncle today. I will cook them their favorite steamed glutinous rice cake.

Hometown (中山) style steamed rice cake with radish, bacon and dried shrimps

As an orphan, my mother wished to join her sister in the U.S. since she was a young girl. After trying for many years without success, she married my father at the age of 28. My father has many relatives in Australia, one of them is the Uncle Chi’s family.

Uncle Chi is my granduncle. He is a cousin of my late grandfather from the ZhongShan (中山) prefecture in the GuangDong province. My granduncle’s family came to Australia during the gold rush era in early 1900s. The family opened a peanut shop in Newcastle with a roasting workshop at the back. The peanut shop had a table in the corner, with old Chinese ladies dropping by daily to enjoy a cup of Chinese tea and a few chats.

My granduncle went to high school and he was academically excellent. He took over the family business instead of pursuing university. This was considered the right thing to do by the family.

During 1940s, granduncle went back to ZhongShan for an arranged marriage. He married a pretty and educated maiden from a well-off family. My grandaunt came to Australia, without a maid on her side for the first time, learned to cook and raised 6 children.

When the peanut shop was sold to a large competitor, the family opened up a Chinese restaurant. They worked really hard.  According to their children, they were in the restaurant ‘all the time’.  Over this period, they sponsored many relatives to migrate to Australia for a better life.  They moved to Sydney in early 1970s as the children studied in universities around Sydney.

My father connected with granduncle in early 1970s by mail.  My grandfather was an educated man (rare those days) and a well-respected figure in our hometown. The two families got on very well in the past.  Since I was a little girl, my parents told me that I must study hard, I must go overseas, and I must seek a better life than the one that I was in. The idea was that, once I could make a break through, my parents could tag along too.

Reasonably good at school work, I attended one of the most selective high schools in Guangzhou city.  My father diligently wrote to my granduncle each year on my academic achievements and suggested that one day I’d have the ability to have a go at a new life in Australia.  So when I graduated from high school in 1980s, my granduncle sponsored me to come to Australia. My granduncle found a school for me, paid for the exuberance school fee and bought an air ticket for me – my parents couldn’t even afford the airfare. I lived with them until I was on my own two feet. With their help, I was able to secure a university degree, became a qualified accountant and later on an investment professional.  Thanks to their generosity, I have a wonderful life in a beautiful country.   I am grateful for their support, kindness & care.

So today I am cooking them a dish from our hometown, ZhongShan, a steamed glutinous rice cake that they loved when I was living with them.

Recipe is as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

Rice paper roll with chicken, quinoa, pumpkin, carrot, capsicum and lettuce (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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A friend has recently moved to a low FODMAP diet. When we have dinner parties, I try to accommodate his diet with the simplest, freshest ingredients with low FODMAP. It is fun and challenging working with limited ingredients.

Here is a super easy recipe & well balanced – the pan fried capsicums & pumpkins add lots of sweetness to this dish, lettuce add  crunchiness, quinoa adds texture, chicken for protein.

Rice paper roll with chicken, quinoa, pumpkin, carrot, capsicum and lettuce (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Chinese traditional steamed pork ‘cake’ 蒸肉餅 (gluten free)

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My old aunt & my cousin are coming over for lunch today.  My aunt can’t cook much any more, so I am cooking them a traditional Chinese meal.  No other meat could be more traditional than pork. I remembered that my old aunt had a secret for all good Chinese pork dishes – ginger, shallot, soy & wine.

Chinese traditional steamed pork 'cake' 蒸肉餅 (gluten free)

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Chicken San Choy Bao

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When I was in university, I worked in a Chinese restaurant as a pantry girl. I cut hundreds of san choy bao leaves each evening before meal time. It was one of the most popular dishes.  I wondered if there was such a real dish in China called the San Choy Bao – I never heard of it before.

Anyway, I made some for the school fete, a big hit. And I was happy.

Chicken San Choy Bao

 Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »